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Czech writer and publisher Josef Skvorecky dies in Toronto at age 87

Josef Skvorecky, the Czech emigre writer and publisher, who fled to Canada after the Soviet invasion that crushed the Prague Spring of 1968, died of cancer early this morning in Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. He was 87.

He and his wife, the writer and actress Zdena Salivarova, founded 68 Publishers in 1971. Over the next two decades they published banned Czech and Slovak books and became a vocal and important western outlet for dissident writers, including Vaclav Havel and Milan Kundera.

Mr. Skvorecky was also a prolific novelist and poet, whose own books had been banned in his homeland. His works include The Cowards, The Engineer of Human Souls, which won the Governor-General's Award in 1984, and The Bass Saxophone.

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Among his honours, Mr. Skvorecky won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1980.

He is survived by his wife. No funeral is planned.

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Sandra Martin is a Globe columnist and the author of the award-winning book, A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices. A long-time obituary writer for The Globe, she has written the obituaries of hundreds of significant Canadians, including Pierre Berton, Jackie Burroughs, Ed Mirvish, June Callwood, Arthur Erickson, and Ken Thomson. More

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